Tag Archives: Energy Department

Let’s confront the ‘existential threat’: climate change

Newly installed U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi laid a number of key issues on the line today moments after taking the gavel.

One of them is what she described as the most dangerous “existential threat” facing the nation: climate change.

Pelosi pledged to bring climate change back to the front of the nation’s attention, to the top of our national mind.

It has been pushed aside by Republicans who formerly ran the House, by those who continue to run the Senate and by the individual who sits in the Oval Office, Donald Trump, the president of the United States.

Trump has called climate change — formerly known colloquially as “global warming” — a “hoax.” His allies in Congress have bought into the Trump mantra. The president selected a key climate change denier, Scott Pruitt, to run the Environmental Protection Agency; another such denier, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, is now the energy secretary; still another denier, Ryan Zinke, has just left his post as interior secretary.

Pelosi clearly understands what most Americans understand, that Earth’s climate is changing and the change is due largely because of massive amounts of carbon emissions being thrown into the atmosphere. That phenomenon, coupled with deforestation, is warming the planet’s temperature; the polar ice caps are melting; sea levels are rising; communities along our seas, gulfs and oceans are being placed in dire peril — not to mention what it’s doing to wildlife habitat.

Pelosi pledged today to return climate change to the front of the line. I wish her well. Whether this discussion produces legislation and a restoration of regulations aimed at curbing those emissions remain to be seen. The GOP still runs the Senate. The Republican president is still in office.

Whatever it is worth, and I hope it’s worth more than it might seem, Pelosi has the public on her side. Whether that’s enough to, um, turn the tide fills me with a bit of hope that this nation might take a proactive stance against this existential threat.

Government endorses notion that humans cause climate change

‘Fickle’ describes Trump and Romney

Please don’t accuse me of being sexist, but ….

I always thought the term “fickle” was used to describe women. You know what I mean. Well, it appears two leading male political figures are rewriting the textbook definition of the word.

Donald Trump and Mitt Romney have said some really harsh things about each other.

Trump has called Romney, the Republican Party’s 2012 presidential nominee, a “loser” who once “begged” Trump for his endorsement. Trump said Romney would have “gotten on his knees” for the endorsement if the GOP candidate had told him to do so.

Romney, meanwhile, has called Trump a “fraud” and a “phony.” He has called the president a pathological liar.

Well, lo and behold! Romney is now running for the U.S. Senate from Utah; Sen. Orrin Hatch is retiring at the end of the year.

What do you suppose was the president’s reaction? He endorsed Romney, saying he will make a “great” U.S. senator.

And Romney? Why, he simply grabbed that endorsement, hugged it tight and thanked the president for the words of affirmation.

How long will this bromance last? Let’s assume Romney gets elected senator from Utah. I think it might endure right up until Romney delivers a harsh Senate floor speech denouncing a preposterous statement coming from Trump.

That, I suppose, presumes that a Sen. Romney hasn’t allowed himself to be emasculated by the GOP Senate leadership that tells him to keep his trap shut when he feels the urge to criticize the president.

Maybe I shouldn’t be too surprised that Trump and Mitt could bury the hatchet. Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry once called Trump a “cancer on conservatism”; he’s now energy secretary in the Trump administration. And didn’t Housing Secretary Ben Carson call Trump a “liar” when they were running for the GOP nomination in 2016?

Still, time will tell us quite a bit about the fickle nature of the Trump-Romney political relationship.

Trying to process Perry’s affection for fossil fuels

I am having a bit of difficulty processing Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s recent tortured and convoluted connection between the use of fossil fuels and sexual abuse.

The former Texas governor spoke in Washington the other day and said — you have to follow this closely — that nations in Africa can avoid sexual abuse of children and young women if they burn more fossil fuels that help “keep the lights on.”

I’m still in a bit of a fog over how one connects one with the other — and does so with a straight face.

I want to offer another element in this strange conflating of energy use and sexual abuse. Actually it’s hard setting aside Perry’s nutty notion that sexual attacks occur only at night, but I’m going to try nevertheless.

When the energy secretary governed Texas, our state turned into a leader in the development of alternative energy sources. I’m talking mostly about wind power. Yet the energy boss seems to have swilled the fossil-fuel Kool-Aid served up by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, the former Oklahoma attorney general who seems enamored with the oil and natural gas industry.

If the energy secretary believes it’s important to keep the lights on, why doesn’t he fall back on the wind power that has become such an enormous presence in places like, oh, the Texas Panhandle and the South Plains?

I don’t often say something positive about Perry, but the development of a clean, renewable alternative energy source — which has an infinite supply out here on the Caprock — provides a pretty stellar legacy that should make the former governor proud.

Indeed, he ought to speak more openly and aggressively about promoting wind energy as a critical component of the national energy policy.

I haven’t heard much from Perry on that score. Instead, he offers a silly notion that connects burning fossil fuels as an antidote to sexual abuse.

Weird, man.

Rick Perry at Homeland Security? Interesting idea

Reports are surfacing that Energy Secretary Rick Perry is being considered for a major Cabinet shift within the Trump administration.

The Texas Tribune reports that Perry might move to the Homeland Security Department to become the new secretary there, replacing John Kelly, who’s taken the thankless job of White House chief of staff.

That the former Texas governor is under consideration for the Homeland Security job makes plenty of sense to me. I believe he could be a good fit in that post.

He served for 14 years as governor of Texas, which has the longest border with Mexico of all the states along our southern border. He understands the issue of border security as well as any leading politician.

As the Texas Tribune reports, though, a shift of this importance signals a dramatic — some would say unbelievable — evolution in the relationship between Gov. Perry and Donald J. Trump. Perry once campaigned for the presidency against Trump. Perry then called his fellow Republican a “cancer on conservatism.” Trump ridiculed Perry after the former governor started wearing eyeglasses, suggesting Perry did so only to make himself look smarter.

All that changed, though, after Trump’s election. The two men buried the hatchet — and not in each other’s backs. The Energy Department job was Perry’s reward from the man who beat him for the GOP presidential nomination.

Is the former governor the perfect pick for Homeland Security? No, but in one way — to my way of thinking — he actually could be better than the man he would succeed. Perry’s record as Texas governor suggests a more reasonable immigration outlook than the one John Kelly espoused while he ran DHS. Perry’s understanding of border issues, earned by his years as governor of a large and important state, tells me he well could be a stellar choice to lead the Department of Homeland Security.

Cue the music and let’s see whether this latest report puts Rick Perry into the DHS chair.

Rick ‘Oops’ Perry interviews for Energy post

LIVERPOOL, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 12:  Turbines of the new Burbo Bank off shore wind farm stand in a calm sea in the mouth of the River Mersey on May 12, 2008 in Liverpool, England. The Burbo Bank Offshore Wind Farm comprises 25 wind turbines and is situated on the Burbo Flats in Liverpool Bay at the entrance to the River Mersey, approximately 6.4km (4.0 miles) from the Sefton coastline and 7.2km (4.5 miles) from North Wirral. The wind farm is capable of generating up to 90MW (megawatts) of clean, environmentally sustainable electricity. This is enough power for approximately 80,000 homes. The site is run by Danish energy company Dong Energy.  (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

The irony is almost too rich.

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry is under consideration for secretary of energy in the Trump administration.

The irony falls along a pair of tracks.

First, Gov. Perry vowed during the 2012 GOP primary campaign to eliminate the agency, but he got hung up in that “Oops” moment when he couldn’t recall the third federal department he’d wipe out.

Second, and this one has become a common theme in Donald J. Trump’s search for Cabinet officials, Perry once called Trump a “cancer on conservatism” that needed to be excised. Perry was among the Gang of 16 Republicans vanquished by Trump on his way to the party nomination.

Now the former Texas governor is among those under consideration for an appointment in the “cancerous” administration to lead an agency he once said was an example of federal government waste.


Can the president-elect’s search for a new government team get any weirder?

Yeah … probably.

Economy jumps ahead, but few folks notice

The latest report from the U.S. Commerce Department about the state of the nation’s economy has me wondering about something.

When are Americans going to start accepting that we are recovering from the Great Recession of 2008-2009?


Commerce officials report that the economy grew 4.1 percent in the third quarter, which is revised upward from 3.6 percent — which isn’t a bad report, either.

Joblessness is down to 7 percent. We’re adding an average of just less than 200,000 jobs a month; the vast bulk of those jobs are in the private sector. Foreclosure rates on homes are at a five-year low. Companies are making money. The stock market is rockin’ and rollin’. The Federal Reserve Board is going to start scaling back the stimulus initiatives it launched with its bond-buying.

And yet …

We keep hearing pundits, commentators and some economists harping about a struggling economy.

I totally understand that a 7 percent unemployment rate isn’t good. It’s a lot better than where it was four years ago. And it’s trending downward.

Some leading individuals — such as former Texas Workforce Chairman Tom Pauken — have griped openly about what they’ve called a “jobless recovery.” Employers are finding they’re able to boost productivity with fewer employees; I despise the term “workers,” by the way. However, we’re not in the middle of a “jobless recovery.”

I should add that energy production — which helps fuel the Texas economy — is way up. The Energy Department reports our oil imports are way down and the United States is on the verge of becoming the world’s leading producer of fossil fuels, a spot occupied for many decades by Russia.

The gloomy Gus crowd, though, keeps winning the argument.

How come? What am I missing?

Share the credit over good energy news

Politics by definition is a competitive sport of sorts, with folks on one side trying to get the advantage over those on the other side.

So it is with the news about U.S. energy production.


Republicans say they deserve credit for their hands-off policies that have allowed energy producers to explore for fossil fuels on private lands. Democrats hail their policies that have promoted more renewable energy resources, decreasing the demand on fossil fuels.

Who gets the credit for some good energy news?

Both sides deserve a share of it. Why not spread the good cheer around?

Oh, I forgot. Politics gets in the way.

My Republican friends here in the Texas Panhandle aren’t willing to give those blasted Democrats any credit for anything. They contend that Democrats have worked to stifle energy production by seeking to ban exploration on public lands and by creating a tax environment that makes it cost prohibitive for energy producers to, well, produce energy.

Some of that criticism is fair. Some of it isn’t.

Democrats, led by the president of the United States, have sought to incentivize exploration and production of alternative energy. Wind, solar and hydro power are replacing fossil fuel-driven energy plants.

Automakers are getting smarter about building more fuel-efficient motor vehicles.

It’s not that we’re no longer drilling for oil and natural gas. The Energy Information Administration reports that the U.S. energy producers developed 7.7 million barrels per day in October, which means that the country produced more oil than it imported for the first time since 1995.

All of this news, taken together, gives all the principals a hand in this relatively good news.

The Obama administration has helped it along with its push toward greater use of alternative energy sources. Republicans have done their part by pursuing greater exploration for domestic fossil fuel.

There. Share the credit.